The New Orleans Pelicans are acquiring Steven Adams from the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The Pelicans lost incumbent starting center Derrick Favors to the Utah Jazz in free agency earlier Friday, and have since found a replacement. The deal will technically be folded into the Jrue Holiday blockbuster, as well as a draft night trade between the Pelicans and Nuggets. The Nuggets sent a protected future first-round pick to the Pelicans in exchange for the draft rights to R.J. Hampton, whom they took with a pick originally from Milwaukee. That future first-rounder, a pair of second-rounders, George Hill and Darius Miller are going to the Thunder, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Adams will presumably start for the Pelicans ahead of 2019 lottery pick Jaxson Hayes, who is still only 20 years old and quite raw. He has only one year left on his contract, however, and that opens the door for the Pelicans to promote Hayes and let Adams walk if Hayes earns the long-term job. If not? The Pelicans will have full Bird Rights on Adams, and therefore, the ability to bring him back above the salary cap.
The Thunder, meanwhile, took on the contract of Al Horford earlier in the week. He played power forward in Philadelphia last season, but that experiment proved to be a failure. The Thunder clearly plan to play him at center, which made Adams expendable. That they picked up extra draft capital for an expiring contract that they didn’t plan to retain is the cherry on top. The Thunder continue to stockpile picks at an unprecedented rate. Adams has spent his entire career with the Thunder. He was the last remaining part of the James Harden trade still on Oklahoma City’s roster. Now that he’s gone, the Thunder can truly kick off this new era. It will be quite some time before we see the finished product, but the rebuild is in full swing in Oklahoma City.